Reflecting on Life with Psoriasis
What if I never treated my psoriasis? This is something I have thought about over the years. I have always had treatment for my disease, but spent over half of my life 70 to 80% covered in scales. It’s a very scary scenario to think about no treatment at all. Never the less I want to write about it to show how important it is to take care of yourself no matter the outcome.
I have always been covered from head to toe. As bad as my psoriasis once was; I can’t imagine seeing those big plaques covering me all on my whole body again. I would always do whatever I had to do so that no one ever saw the flakes falling from my clothes. It could be over 100 degrees outside and I would have on long sleeve shirts; depending on the severity of my skin there were days I had to wear an extra shirt and tie rubber bands at the wrists to stop the flakes from falling out. There was never a day that went by that I didn’t wear pantyhose to keep the scales a secret.
How do you see yourself?
When I would go to the doctor I would be ashamed as the doctor and nurses would look at my skin. My psoriasis was all over my body, I didn’t see myself happy at all. Over the years my self-image became distorted and very unhealthy for me. This all came from judgment being passed on by my co-workers, teachers, siblings, peers and people in authority. I remember always being sensitive to criticism and I made everything always about me and my condition. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect on the outside but I was falling apart on the inside. I couldn’t get it in my head that what I was thinking about myself could become a reality. Everything that was going through my head was manifesting itself in some way.
I now know that the way I see myself says a lot about my psychological adjustment and more importantly my interpersonal relations. It has taken me a lifetime to get my self-image right. It never dawned on me that my emotions and perceptions were influencing my thinking and behavior. All I could see were the flakes and scales on my skin; people pointing and staring; nothing else. I went into a shell. We should know that our behavior is a reflection of our thoughts. We never stop and think about what we think, how we think, and why we do what we do.
I felt like I couldn’t live the simplistic life. Simple things become difficult. I still have psoriasis and the autoimmune disease which is part of me and stills shows up. I look at myself day by day and see every spot as a reminder of what my life has been. I also see what internal organs are affected by my psoriasis and the treatments that I have been put on.
People have told me how brave I am at enduring all that I have with this disease. I don’t feel brave at all. When I think of brave; I see school teachers; students; and firefighters. Anyone that is risking their lives to help others is brave to me. Psoriasis chose to attack me. It has robbed me of what I thought I knew about myself. I’m not brave, but I am strong. I wish I felt brave, but there are days I just want to remain hopeful that the treatment I am on keeps on working. There are many things I had to change, add the increase too. I feel like I let myself down on some days, the doctors let me down and even research has let me down.
This type of optimism, of entering a new treatment despite having been disappointed numerous times in the past, isn’t silly or naïve. It is courageous and brave. I can’t count the number of times that I have gone into a new therapy preparing myself for the therapy not to work because I couldn’t bear to think about getting my hopes up just to have them crushed again and again. Because of the times; we now have better treatments, better medications, and advanced research.
Psoriasis is more than a cosmetic issue. Left untreated, it can lead to serious medical complications.